Wednesday, 16 January 2008

A 100% Linux household

It was at LinuxConf Europe 2007 back in September that I made the decision to really try and habitually run Linux day-to-day on my laptop. I've always had Linux installed on my laptop, initially Debian but when I was forced to reinstall the machine I decided to give Ubuntu a try and was impressed enough that stuff just worked on my not particularly Linux friendly laptop that I stuck with it.

Don't get me wrong: I've been a daily Linux user since 1994. I'd just not spent that much time running it as my desktop OS since leaving university. When I entered the world of work I found that I needed both Windows and Linux and got fed up with rebooting between them. I found that having one Linux machine running a VNC server and using a Windows box as a client was infinitely more usable than the reverse so I worked that way round. I used Linux via VNC for embedded software development and Windows for Windows software development. For much of the time my Windows box was effectively just used as a thin client. Often the Linux box was actually rather powerful and shared by many users.

So when I was in the position of having independent home server machines and desktop machines I ran Debian Linux on the server and Windows on the desktop. The Linux machine was the one that stayed on all the time. It was there I ran (and continue to run) mutt(1) to read my personal email and slrn(1) to read Usenet news. The Windows box was switched off or put into standby when I wasn't using it. When the desktop became a laptop the situation was the same except because the laptop was portable I installed Linux on it too so that I'd have access to Linux when I was away from home. I didn't really run Linux on it much but occasionally it proved useful.

But as I was sat at the conference I noticed that it seemed to mostly be the “suits” that dared to run Windows on their laptops at a Linux Conference. I wasn't a suit so I chose to always boot into Linux. I did the few things I needed to do easily and quickly enough. The conference left me feeling so positive about Linux in general that I decided that I needed to bite the bullet and abandon Windows at home. Windows was becoming very slow and annoying on the machine anyway so I had an added incentive to do so. Unfortunately Linux was rather slow too when I started using it in anger. I resorted to adding more memory and this helped greatly.

So, since the beginning of September I've only rebooted into Windows for two reasons. Once was to watch an episode of something that the Tivo missed using the BBC iPlayer (this was last year when Linux wasn't supported). The other was to satisfy my immediate desire to play with the Lego Mindstorms set I received for Christmas. I shouldn't need to do the first again and I've now tired of the visual programming language used by Lego Mindstorms and will investigate NXC.

I've managed to do everything else I needed to do under Linux. Some things are easier, some things are a little harder, most are faster but a few are slower. Thanks to user switching even my wife uses it for reading her email and web access. Some bugs continue to annoy me but nowhere near as much as the Windows task bar locking up for several minutes every so often just because it feels like it.

So, I've taken the plunge and I don't see myself going back. The next step is to work out how I can lose the Windows box at work too!

No comments: